EADS aims higher after decade of growth
EUROPEAN aerospace and defence giant EADS is keen to develop its presence in Australia after a strong decade of growth in the commercial and defence spheres.
EADS chief executive Tom Enders yesterday said he was holding talks with colleagues and industry partners about how to build on a “a picture of really dynamic growth”.
The global giant, which generated revenues of E56.6 billion last year and employed a workforce of more 140,000, had just 45 employees in Australia in 2000 but opened up the local market to its military and commercial aircraft and boosted this to about 1300.
Its share of the Australian commercial airline fleet went from 13 per cent in 2000 to 40 per cent and growing.
“It would be premature to make any announcements here but one things is clear: we are here to stay,” Mr Enders told a National Aviation Press Club lunch in Sydney.
“I think we have built, we own now, a very considerable footprint in 10 years. As I said, we went from 45 employees to 1300 employees. We want to build on this.”
Airbus estimates it supports a further 2500 jobs indirectly and says it now boasts an annual revenue from Australia of about $700 million.
It has benefitted through its Australian Aerospace subsidiary from major defence contracts: the recently completed delivery to the Australian Defence Force of 22 Tiger armed reconnaissance helicopters; the ongoing delivery of 47 MRH90 multi-role helicopters; and the supply of five A330-based Multi-Role Tanker Transports.
It also has contracts supporting oil and gas helicopter operations and the RAAF’s AP-3C Orion and C-130J Hercules aircraft.
Mr Enders said the company was now one of the big three or four defence players in Australia and he saw product support and services for helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft as an area of increasing importance.
He also indicated selling the new Airbus A350 family of airliners into the region would be a high priority. Virgin Australia is looking at both the A350 and the competing Boeing 787 Dreamliner but has yet to make a decision.
The A350 is in flight test. The first aircraft now has about 300 flight hours under its belt. A second plane is due to join the program later this week.
Mr Enders said the new plane was on track for certification and delivery by the end of next year, although he cautioned there could still be unexpected developments.
The EADS chief was less happy with sales of the double-decker A380, saying it had been affected by the GFC as well as the need to replace brackets on the wings across the fleet.
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